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Fire minister apologises for government's Grenfell failings

05 July 2017

FIRE MINISTER Nick Hurd has delivered a speech at the annual fire safety conference, reflecting on the Grenfell Tower tragedy and hinted that the Building Regulations may need to be reviewed.

Mr Hurd described the fire as the biggest disaster to hit the UK since Hillsborough and a scale of fire not seen since the Second World War. He stressed the priorities for the government are to provide support for the victims and their families, ensure that a thorough public inquiry and criminal investigation is carried out and reassure the public that the buildings they live in are safe. 

He admitted that the government’s response on the ground to the fire had not been good enough and lessons need to be learned ahead of any future civil emergency. The minister paid tribute to the efforts of the fire and rescue service during and after the Grenfell Tower fire and said they also play a key role in advising property owners about fire safety risks when they carry out fire safety audits. He urged members of the wider fire sector to make suggestions on any changes that might need to be made in relation to these audits. 

Mr Hurd also hinted that the Building Regulations may need to be reviewed, he said: “It is clear that the initial response of the emergency services was absolutely exemplary. However, the support on the ground, as we’ve been really frank about and put our hands up, was simply not good enough.

“That failure was inexcusable, and it is right that a new team, led by John Barradell – the Chief Executive of the City of London, is now coordinating the response on the ground. We have got to learn to ensure any future civil emergencies are responded to as effectively as possible.

“Building regulations and fire safety systems have been developed over many decades. Until the Grenfell Tower fire, it could have been said these systems worked. 

“The events of the last few weeks have highlighted the importance of fire safety audits. We will, working in coordination with the sector, consider what changes, if any, are needed to the fire safety audit regime. I’d really like to hear your views on that.”